This year, Miami entrepreneur EJ Martinez launched the franchising opportunity for his concept Power Pizzeria at the Miami Franchise Expo. EJ has a very interesting career transition story in which he went from spinning records at South Beach nightclubs to creating a “better for you” pizza concept.
With approximately three billion pizzas sold in the United States each year, Power Pizzeria is differentiating itself in the market with a pizza made with healthier ingredients. Whey protein is blended into dough made in-house and served fresh daily, while the sauce is organic and sugar-free. Pizza toppings are made with all-natural ingredients that include part-skim mozzarella cheese; in-house, fresh cut vegetables; and meat with no additives or fillers. The combination leaves consumers with a less greasy pizza and a much better and satisfied feeling afterwards.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What led you to start Power Pizzeria in 2004, when you were a young DJ without any food service background?
EJ Martinez (EM): I stumbled upon the idea of opening a pizza concept while coming home late from a DJ gig. I walked into a pizza place to grab a slice and overheard customers commenting on how bad they felt about cheating on their diets. I thought to myself, “there has to be a better way to do this.” At 5:30 a.m. that morning, the idea for Power Pizzeria was born.
FC: What makes your pizzas healthier than those offered by other pizza franchises? What other menu items do you offer, and are they consistent with what your brand stands for?
EM: All of our pizzas are blended with whey protein, which helps promote weight loss, and are topped with tomato sauce that is organic and sugar-free, as well as part-skim mozzarella cheese. Our meat toppings are all-natural and we only use the freshest vegetables, which are cut in our stores daily. Our pizzas are less greasy and leave people feeling more satisfied afterwards.
All of our other menu items are consistent with our healthier “feel good” products. We offer delicious made to order salads, wraps, baked chicken wings, and multigrain pastas. All the foods you love without the guilt.
FC: How was your experience launching and running your first Power Pizzeria restaurant?
EM: My lack of experience in the pizza industry led to the failure of my first restaurant location. I encountered many challenges that helped me learn some important lessons.
The first speed bump was choosing a historical building on South Beach to build it. I handled all of the construction. We planned for our construction to take four months and it took us nine! Three days after opening, my pizza maker called in sick and I had to make pizzas. I had never made a pizza before so that was interesting. It did not get any better from there.
I knew I had a great concept, I just had to figure out how to run a pizza business. I closed my store for a week and went to the pizza expo in Vegas. I attended every seminar in the expo and bought every book that every speaker was selling. I researched the business inside and out.
Upon returning to South Beach, I made the necessary adjustments and tried to bring our business back up and running. By that time though, the damage had already been done, and we had too many upset customers.
Rather than quitting, I took what I learned while studying the pizza industry and decided to close the store and attempt to open a second location on the other side of Miami. That second Power Pizzeria location turned out to be a success and the rest is history.
FC: What lessons did you learn from the failure of your first restaurant that paved the way for you to create a successful pizza concept, now with 4 corporate locations?
EM: I learned that in order to run a successful restaurant, you need to know every single detail of your operation. From cleaning the floors to tracking your inventory.
FC: Who is your target customer? What is the ideal neighborhood and location for a Power Pizzeria restaurant?
EM: My target customer is everyone who likes pizza and is seeking a “better for you” option that does not taste like diet pizza. Pizza is everyone’s favorite food, but they just don’t eat it as often as they would like because of the guilt that comes with eating an entire box of pizza. My goal is to let everyone enjoy pizza and feel good both emotionally and physically.
The ideal neighborhood for a Power Pizzeria is one with a good mix of businesses, residential homes, and schools. Family areas.
FC: What specifically can you offer franchisees that would make owning a Power Pizzeria franchise more desirable than starting a pizza joint from scratch or joining another franchise?
EM: The main benefit is that I have already made all of the mistakes, and have developed a system that will guide franchisees to success. This includes teaching them everything from the startup stage to baking their first pizza and beyond!
Franchisees will be directly working with me, the founder of the company, and my hand-picked staff that has helped me grow the concept from scratch. No other franchise system will dedicate as much time and attention as ours.
In addition to the special attention that franchisees will receive, we have amazing territories available. We will be opening our first franchise location this upcoming summer 2012.
FC: What can you tell us about the estimated initial investment, royalty fees, and profit potential for a Power Pizzeria franchise?
EM: The estimated initial investment is from $256,500 to $422,500. This includes our franchise fee of $25,000. Royalties are currently 5 percent of sales, with a 1 percent marketing fund contribution.
FC: Can you name a few franchises (inside or outside your category) that you admire, and why?
EM: I admire John Kunkel, founder and CEO of Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, for what he has done with the company. As a Miami guy himself, he was able to build a successful company from the ground up.
FC: Is the Power Pizzeria franchise opportunity already available in all states and internationally? What are your targets for 2012 and 2013, and how do you plan on growing the business?
EM: The Power Pizzeria franchise opportunity is available nationwide, with the exception of a couple of states. We do have plans to grow internationally. Our goal within the next few years is to sign 25-30 franchise deals.
I plan to grow the Power Pizzeria concept by partnering up with franchisees that share our passion. Franchisees must be on the same page as us. We are very selective as to who we sign as franchisees. We are looking for long term results rather than short term deals. We believe that success and growth will come with the right people.
FC: Is there anything else you wish to share about Power Pizzeria?
EM: We are going to change the way the world eats pizza.